Downing Arts: The Great Tradition

The Downing community – its students, Fellows, staff, alumni and also its visitors – benefits from access to a purpose-built theatre; regular music performances and concerts; and exhibitions and a variety of events in the Heong Gallery that tie in with arts and cultural festivals across Cambridge.

"To me, beyond academic achievement, Cambridge wouldn’t be Cambridge without the flourishing music and drama scenes". 

Harry Bradford (Music, 2014)

The College is committed to encouraging the originality of our students, as well as to building lives and skills beyond their study. The Arts at Downing play a co-ordinated and powerful role in enhancing the student experience, whilst widening Downing’s local and national outreach.

The Downing Arts Fund, to which student groups may apply for funds, supports programming costs in music, poetry and literature and activities in the art gallery and theatre.

The Heong Gallery

Originally a tiny, unloved Edwardian stable block, The Heong Gallery is unique in Cambridge – a purpose-built exhibition space in a Cambridge College, bringing modern and contemporary art to the city and generating research and public arts engagement.

The Gallery has hosted over 50,000 visitors in the last 30 months and has forged enduring ties with giants of the Cambridge arts establishment, with artists, academics, schools and colleges, and has brought lost alumni back into the fold. Since opening in 2016, we’ve featured high-profile shows by Ai Wei Wei, Dame Elizabeth Frink and Sir Quentin Blake and we now have a Barbara Hepworth sculpture on public view.  

For our own students, the Gallery has become a place of work, a place that encourages artistic expression in response to the works on show, and an interface between the often insular world of University life and the vibrant city around it. The universal appeal and draw of art has brought in the world beyond the wrought-iron gates on Regent Street.

The Gallery was conceived and built thanks to external philanthropy, but now we need funding in order to build its activities. Your support will enable The Heong Gallery to continue at the leading edge of arts provision in Cambridge and the South East and to evolve into a permanent destination on the cultural map of the region. It will ensure that we provide excellent art and culture freely, for everyone.

Support the Gallery by becoming a 1717 Patron

As a 1717 Patron, you will be not only providing significant support to the Gallery, but also acknowledging a significant milestone that marks over 300 years of giving to the College. 1717 Patrons are recognised on a Donor Board within the Gallery, receive invitations to all exhibition openings and other events, and feature in all catalogues, promotional materials, and other reports.

For more information please contact: Jo Finnie Jones, Director of Advancement on Tel: 01223 769466 or email

Downing Heritage

More information will be published here.